Colombia’s National Bird Conservation Strategy Takes Flight

After two years of consultations, with the contribution of more than 2000 people, today Colombia, the country with the most bird species in the world, has a roadmap for conserving its rich bird life and the places it inhabits. Here is the story.

By: Technical Board of Enca 2023

After two years of collaborative work with representatives from all regions of the country, today we want to share with you the document that collects the job done to achieve the update of the National Strategy for the Conservation of Birds of Colombia - Enca 2030. Our purpose is that all interested people get to know the process and the actions defined and thus join, from their initiatives to the implementation of the Enca 2030.

The road to updating the Strategy took a lot of work. Our initial proposal to have face-to-face spaces became six hours a week of virtual work. No one imagined that COVID-19 would come to stay for so long, forcing us into confinement and into looking from our windows to the world -natural and digital- how birds could improve the quality of life of Colombians and generate greater sustainability for the country while providing them with the habitat they need and ensure their conservation.

Birds have that unique and extraordinary power to bring people together and start conversations. In our case, the Enca 2030 not only initiated the discussion and evaluation from the point of view of academics and ornithologists, who, because of their work, longed for this update, but it was an opportunity to have a dialogue with new actors and sectors, where despite the different thoughts, approaches, 
and visions, it was possible to build a new strategy that seeks that birds transcend and for Colombia to be recognized nationally and internationally as the country of birds, with 1966 registered species.

The process deserves to be told beyond the fact that we had long and intense virtual workshops, but because the step-by-step construction was possible thanks to the Conservation Standards methodology, complex to understand, but one that, despite de difficulties, worked extraordinarily well to have a recharged Strategy.

In total, more than 30 virtual workshops, with the participation of more than 2000 people who connected from different regions of the country, including rural and urban areas, offices, homes, parks, public and private transport, and even - sometimes - while attending medical appointments, all united by the commitment to contribute to the construction of the country through birds.

There were also tense moments when we disagreed on decisions or objectives. This meant having more sessions than planned, which sometimes brought discouragement. Today, reading the text, looking at the results, and the effort made by many Colombian women and men, we celebrate and reiterate that such an undertaking was worthwhile.

More voices and knowledge

The new Enca 2030 integrates visions based on conservation needs with a regional and national focus, prioritizing the relationships between people and birds. Therefore, when the "social life" slowly reactivated, we organized face-to-face workshops, focusing on bringing the voices and knowledge of local, indigenous, Afro, and rural communities that, due to accessibility issues, had difficulties participating virtually and contributing their knowledge, visions, and expectations.

These face-to-face spaces were extraordinary. Free from confinement, we travel the country from north to south to meet with indigenous peoples, peasants, and leaders who generate practical conservation actions in their territories through birds. This opened the doors to ancestral knowledge and helped us to value more closely the vital relationship these communities have with birds in their daily lives. For example, for some Andean peoples, "hummingbirds appear in dreams, as messengers that indicate how and where to plant, and predict changes in the weather." Or, among the Pacific communities, the shared knowledge understands that birds indicate if it is a good day for fishing.

Undoubtedly, this experience led us to recognize that knowledge about birds occurs in different spaces and contexts. The traditional wisdom of indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities is also essential to promote strategies for the sustainability of birds in the country.

The new  National Strategy for the Conservation of Birds of Colombia would not be possible without all the voices, experiences, and knowledge received from all regions of the country; from our islands to the glaciers, from academia and experts, as well as from unions, artists, educators, representatives of agribusiness and environmental entities and authorities, voices united in a flock so that Colombia effectively integrates its economic, social and cultural model with the conservation, management and sustainable use of birds. All of us, together, are the country of birds.

Here is the link to the proceedings of the workshops (in Spanish).